Bajura local government seeks religious leaders’ help to stop child marriageA local unit in the district has reached out to temple priests and astrologers to help them raise awareness among the local people about the malpractice.
Budhinanda Municipality in Bajura district has started mobilising religious leaders to stop child marriages in its settlements. Child marriage is practised widely in Budhinanda Municipality, where, according to the data of the municipal office, 61 couples under the age of 20 got married in the last three years.
The municipality has reached out to temple priests and astrologers to help them raise awareness among the local people about the malpractice since most couples and their families consult these religious leaders before getting married.
“Astrologers, priests and other religious leaders have committed themselves to the cause,” said Shristi Regmi, deputy mayor of the municipality. “We suspect the number of child marriages has gone up during the pandemic. We don’t have the exact data.”
Although Nepal abolished child marriage in 1963, the practice is still rampant, especially in rural parts of the country. According to the Civil Code, the minimum age for marriage for both women and men in Nepal is 20. But most of the residents of remote areas of Budhinanda are not following the rules.
“We have seen long term health risks of child marriages and early pregnancies in both mothers and their children in our community. Traditional norms, poverty and illiteracy are contributing to the practice of child marriage here,” said Puspharaj Upadhayay, a local priest.
A Human Rights Watch report published in September 2016 states that around 37 percent of girls in Nepal marry before the age of 18 and 10 percent are married by age 15. The federal government has announced a plan to eradicate child marriage by 2030.